Bears open new gymnasium

Published 9:15 pm Monday, December 12, 2011

New digs: A new gymnasium at Billingsley School was opened Saturday. The girls varsity Bears lost to Verbena, but the boys defeated their hosts. Billingsley previously played its home games at a gym located adjacent to the old school, down the road from the current school.

Billingsley School opened its new gymnasium Saturday, the latest step toward locating all of the athletic facilities at the site of the new school, which was opened in 1999.

Junior varsity player Megan Barrett scored the first basket in the new gym, minutes after a dedication ceremony in which BHS Principal Van Smith thanked the Autauga County Board of Education for making the gym a reality.

Smith said the $1.5 million project shows that county officials care about Billingsley.

“It doesn’t matter where you were born or where you live…what color your skin might be…how affluent you are—the county knows you matter,” Smith told a crowd so large there might not have even been standing room for everyone in the old gym.

The old gym was built in 1963, seated about 250 people and had a court that was not regulation size.

The new gym can seat at least 750 people and features storage for physical education classes, competition and PE locker rooms, and a shiny regulation size court large enough to be used for two volleyball courts or two PE basketball courts at a time.

“The county really didn’t cut any corners,” Smith said. “They went all-out to give our kids something we can be proud of.”

Varsity boys player Denzel Callens had the first dunk in the new gym as the Bears went on to defeat Verbena, 75-54.

A.J. Tyus scored 14 points for Billingsley, Justin Snow had 13 points and Carlos Caver had 12 points.

“The kids are really excited about it,” boys coach and athletic director J.T. Lawrence said. “It’s going to have benefits outside of athletics, also, for pep rallies and graduations and things like that.”

Verbena’s girls remained undefeated on the season with a 49-31 win over Billingsley.

The Red Devils are now 6-0.

Marqueska Deramus had 18 points for Verbena, Jameshia Green had 14 points.

Lori Davis led all scorers with 20 points for Billingsley.